Ukrainian Prima Ballerina Iana Salenko has graced world stages with her exquisite presence for years. From London’s Royal Ballet to the Berlin State Ballet, her drive for success and underniable beauty on stage has set her apart from the rest of the ballet world. Standing at only 5’2″ she manages to fill an entire stage with passion and continues to captivate each audience she dances for. And despite contrary belief – that Ballerina’s careers begin to fade out once in their 30’s ( Iana now 34) – Iana’s only seems to be shining brighter, and even boasts that since becoming a mother she is healthier, happier and stronger. So how does she do it? What knowledge does she have to share that can help not only dancers but women worldwide? Iana shares her top fitness and nutrient tips with TrainLikeaBallerina.
What is your normal warm up before training? I warm up every day before ballet class for 30 minutes. My warm up changes based on what my body needs each day. I make sure to stretch my whole body though.
Do you do any extra Cardio Vascular training or high intensity training beside ballet class? I enjoy to go running but I do not do it on a regular basis.
Do you do any kind of weight training? I think weight training varies based on each person. For my body, I do not feel I need any extra weight training. Although I can really see the benefits for a lot of dancers. For me personally, working extremely hard in ballet class each day is for me enough, but this means finishing each and every exercise and always finishing class.
What are your main tips for body recovery after a show or workout? For me going to bed early is very important, especially after a performance. I also enjoy baths as part of my recovery. Massage I have sometimes, but actually not so often.
What has been your most serious injury? If so do you feel it could of been preventable? I’ve make sure I do a lot of injury prevention meaning warming up before every training and show and certain strengthening exercises for muscles I am weak in. I had a very bad injury a few years ago because my ankles were just not strong enough. Now I know better and make sure to do the right strengthening foot and ankle exercises to prevent it happening again.
Do you follow any kind of special diet? No I don’t have any kind of special diet. I do watch what I eat though, meaning I like to eat healthy but I also really enjoy tasty food. I always prefer to take full fat options and less portions than low fat and bigger portions (such as with yoghurt). My little weakness has always been butter, I love it! But I know I can not have it everyday.
On a typical day of work, rehearsals and show what do you eat? If I have a very high intensity day at work and a lot of rehearsals, I know I can not eat such heavy food or a lot. So a normal day of full work, rehearsal and performance would look like:
Breakfast: Muesli with curd cheese and chunks of chocolate Snacks: Nuts and fruits (all day) Dinner: Salad with some protein such as meat or fish Before show: Banana, nuts and chocolate. Depending on the intensity of the show, I choose how much food I eat. When I have a big show I will always eat more in the day or a bigger main meal. And I always make sure I drink lots of water each day!
Do you take any supplements? No, I don’t take any supplements, just natural vitamins.
Did your diet change in any way after the birth of your first child? I’m very thankful for my pregnancy because it changed the way I viewed food. I eat much more healthy now and take care of my body even more.
Why do you think you feel at home in Berlin more than any other city in the world? I dont mind where I live in the world, what is important to me is I have my family and my husband and people around me that love me.
What do you think the biggest misconception about dancers is? I would say that it’s that dancers don’t eat, but I feel there still are a lot of dancers that don’t. And they need to know that it’s more important to be happy and healthy. Educating dancers on what to eat is very important.
‘I wish I knew then what I know now’. If you could teach young aspiring dancers anything, what would you teach them? I wish I learnt more about food, healthy eating and nutrition earlier on in my career or in school as I realise now how important it is to life!